“Was ever grief like mine?”

Read George Herbert’s “The Sacrifice,” a poem from the perspective of Christ on the Cross, quoted and linked after the jump.  Do you see how it influenced the beloved Lenten hymn “My Song Is Love Unknown”?  (Throw in Herbert’s poem Love Unknown and you’ve pretty much got the whole hymn.) [Read more…]

“Which my God feel as blood; but I, as wine”

Today is Maundy Thursday, arguably the climax of our Lord’s earthly ministry, the day He washed His disciple’s feet, gave them the mandate (thus, “maundy”) to love one another, instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion, experienced agony in the garden, gave His high priestly prayer for his disciples and for all who would later believe (us), was betrayed, arrested, scourged, and abandoned.

After the jump, one of my favorite poems, by George Herbert, a Maundy Thursday/Good Friday poem that brings together many of these themes in an unforgettable way.  (I’ve posted it here before, but it is worth re-reading at this time of year over and over.) [Read more…]

The myth of Easter’s pagan origins

As Holy Week gets underway, we once again need to remind the world that Easter did NOT derive from a pagan holiday or from pagan practices.  Read this and this and follow the links.

An object lesson for St. Patrick’s Day

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, a time to commemorate the former slave who escaped his masters, only to come back later to bring Christianity to the whole nation of Ireland.  By extension, it is a time to honor all missionaries.

St. Patrick, who lived in the 400s A.D., the time of the early church, was impressive for lots of reasons.  He is the author of the remarkable meditation/poem/hymn St. Patrick’s Breastplate.  It includes these lines, calling on Christ to be present with him in every dimension of his life:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Applying so many prepositions to Christ reminds me of an object lesson that a Danish pastor offered at the conference I spoke at recently. [Read more…]

An Irish girl tells the story of St. Patrick

[Read more…]

Leap Year

The earth takes 365 1/4 days to go around the sun.  So for our calendars to reflect the seasons of the year, we account for that quarter day by adding a day to the calendar every four years.  And since we stick it on to the shortest month of the year, that day is today!

You could complain that you have to work an extra day this month without any extra pay.  Or you could be glad that you are getting an extra day of rent free.  But you should look at February 29 as a bonus, the gift of a day.

I want to give special congratulations to those of you born on February 29 and so only have a birthday, technically, every four years.  (How do you celebrate your birthday otherwise?  On February 28 or March 1?  Do any of you Leap Year babies just wait to celebrate every four years?)

I remember as a kid reading the comic strip Little Orphan Annie.  There had been lots of jokes about how the strip had been running for 44 years, though its heroine was still a young girl.  Then its creator Harold Gray said that Annie was born on Leap Year, so that after four decades, she was only 11.  (As the strip went on, up to Gray’s death in 1968, he reportedly aged her one year for every four years that passed.  The strip carried on with other writers and an ageless Annie until 2010.)

According to the folk tradition in many countries, women may propose to men during a leap year.  In some versions, the man has to accept, and if he doesn’t, he has to pay a fine of giving the woman a present.  In some cultures, women may propose marriage to a man any time during the year.  In others, it has to be on “Leap Day”; that is, February 29.  Some of you may want to take advantage of this.